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The Trek Nation - Rules of Engagement

Rules of Engagement

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:22 AM GMT

See Also: 'Rules of Engagement' Episode Guide

Worf goes on trial under suspicion of savagely destroying a Klingon ship full of innocent people. Though the Klingon attorney argues persuasively, Sisko realizes that Worf is being framed for a crime which may not even have occurred.

Analysis:

I'm a sucker for courtroom drama, and I'm often drawn in by Klingon episodes even when they start to get redundant, so there was a lot I liked about this episode. In addition to showcasing both Brooks and Dorn as orators, it had interesting direction -- I liked the past-tense narration, which made the show a lot less static than either voice-overs or just jumping back and forth between the trial and the events it described.

But such a setup deserved a story worthy of it, without a pat ending. I really disliked listening to both Dax and O'Brien testify. I've already coped with the bimbo-ization of Kira; if I have to watch Dax turn into Worf's understanding girlfriend, I don't think I'll be able to watch the show. As an officer, she should know that sharp, incisive responses to legal queries rather than long, sensitive looks in the defendant's direction would be more useful. And O'Brien's testimony, while presented well, brought up a very annoying question of consistency: why was O'Brien, an enlisted man, next in line to take over command of the Defiant when Kira was on the ship? I understand that she's Bajoran and the Defiant is a Starfleet vessel, but it's not clear how O'Brien fits into the chain of command at all. If Kira has no place commanding the ship, why would Sisko have risked sending her on the mission at all?

Other than that quibble, I think it's fair to say that this was none of Sisko's better episodes this season. He comes across as more captain-like than ever before, and the mixture of sarcasm and deep emotion he manages to bring to his performance before the advocate was very effective. I think he let Worf off the hook too easily on the decision to fire -- in fact, I think he ALWAYS lets Worf off the hook too easily -- but I like his growing comfort level with the crew and his increasing self-assuredness when making speeches. The ending was predictable -- Odo's not looking terribly clever as a security officer these days, though I'll concede that he's better than Tuvok on Voyager -- and I'm not sure what the point was: that the Klingons are sneakier and possibly less honorable than we'd suspected? That Worf is more important that Gowron led him to believe, and they won't rest till then get him back, like the Founders with Odo?

I thought the judge seemed a little too smug and satisfied for a Vulcan, and I feel that way about the whole episode. Now that Worf's severed his ties to the Klingons, the writers need better excuses than this to bring them up again.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.